The Washington State Cougars are hosting the Arizona Wildcats in a game, as one of our writers put it, that might be the only matchup this year between a 9-1 team and a 5-5 team where the fans of the 9-1 team — which also is ranked No. 8 in the College Football Playoff — are terrified of the 5-5 team.
That’s because the Wildcats rolled up 585 yards, 11.5 yards per play, and 58 points in Tucson last season thanks to the two-man wrecking crew of Khalil Tate and J.J. Taylor. But despite fans’ worries, the Cougs are double-digit betting favorites at home, giving 10 1⁄2 points to the Wildcats on a line that has swung just a half point (in the Cougs’ favor) since it opened earlier this week.
The game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. PT and be broadcast on ESPN. You can also stream it online at WatchESPN.com or via the ESPN app on your favorite mobile device. You can also listen to the radio broadcast via the WSU IMG Sports Network on TuneIn.
The Cougars are facing a different version of Tate this time around, though, as we covered yesterday. He’s still dangerous, just in a different way, electing to throw from the pocket more than tucking the ball and taking off. It’s a vertical passing attack, which is the sort of scheme that has given the WSU secondary all sorts of trouble this season; how WSU handles those throws over the top will probably tell the story of how the defense plays overall.
All the focus on Tate, though, has taken WSU fans’ eyes off their own offense, which is among the best in the country. And here are the yardage and point totals in the five games in which Leach has faced Arizona at WSU:
- 2017: 37 points, 646 yards
- 2016: 69 points, 614 yards
- 2015: 45 points, 631 yards
- 2014: 37 points, 543 yards
- 2013: 27 points, 420 yards
The head coach might be new, but defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is in his third year, and he’s had very few answers for the Air Raid in that time. Tyler Hilinski threw for more than 500 yards in about 2 1⁄2 quarters of play last season, and only a spate of turnovers kept the Cougs from putting more points on the board. The Wildcats won’t be benefiting from inexperience this year, however, and Gardner Minshew II is excellent at taking care of the ball.
It will be interesting to see if the weather plays a factor in the outcome. It’s predicted to drop into the high 20s shortly after kickoff — with it feeling even colder, thanks to the humidity — and we’re guessing the boys from Tucson, Arizona, don’t exactly have a ton of experience playing in very cold temperatures. The wind should be fairly still.
How are you feeling about the game?
How is WSU going to do against Arizona?
This poll is closed
Big victory! (14+ points)
Moderate victory (7-13 points)
Close victory (1-6 points)
Close loss (1-6 points)
Moderate loss (7-13 points)
Big loss (14+ points)